South Africa is truly a country full of possibilities. Anything can happen on any given day. These next few days to the municipal elections in 16 days’ time will turn out to be the most interesting in our young democracy. There is something different about these elections, a certain energy that is bubbling just under the surface, not easy to detect and read, but definitely there.
I am afraid the two main parties in this country, the ANC and the DA, have been making things very difficult for themselves as they have been hogging the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Professor Somadoda Fikeni once said this about the DA: ‘The DA is busy mutilating itself in a corner, unprovoked.” I would add the ANC, as well, fits that description. People always say ours is a democracy based on one of the world’s best crafted constitutions, the envy of the world. What has been lacking in this young democracy was the real choice for the electorate, whether you are on the centre, the left or the right of the political spectrum.
What the electorate has today, with the belated entry of independent candidates and the advent of non-aligned movements, is a real choice. People who were disillusioned with politics and tended to stay at home and not bother to vote would use the crude characterisation- the DA is a white party, the ANC is a black party obsessed with race-based policies and corrupt and the EFF the party of rude anarchists. The belated entry of the independent movements is threatening to be the game-changer and has shaken the foundation of our politics to the core. Those who laughed at them when they started are no longer laughing. You can see the threat posed by the independents by the increasing attention they are getting from the DA and the ANC of late. These main parties are realising that it will definitely not be ‘business as usual’ this time around.
It makes you wonder what would Sanco have been if they never saw themselves as an unwelcomed extension of the ANC. Imagine if they stood independently as a genuine civic organisation that was welcoming all and sundry, irrespective of their political associations and sentiments. They, sadly, chose the short cut of aligning themselves with power and thereby rendering themselves irrelevant today. Their leaders saw it as the shortest route to the seat on the main table, hence today they are basically irrelevant.
Does the electorate have a genuine choice or is what they have yesterday’s bread all dressed up as toast? Can the independents break the stranglehold the two main parties have had over our local body politic for the last 27 years? Are they a viable alternative that will genuinely take service delivery to the next level? Are they just a gimmick by power hungry or disgruntled members from the main parties who didn’t find favour this time around or are they just used as ego trips by powerful but bored men who have too much time on their hands? Fortunately, elections are on a Monday in November so I have another Friday before the elections, to break it down for you and tell you who I think is your best bet.